“While the plant is growing, an enormous amount of electrical or vital energy is absorbed into the different parts of the plant. It is first generated by the sun, diffused through the atmosphere, the water and the earth; and the plants select what they need to build acids, alkaline, phosphates, carbonates, chlorides, glycerides, oils, fats, waxes and so forth.
In this profoundly wonderful vegetable kingdom that covers the earth with beauty, perfume and flavor, there is every conceivable requirement for every living creature, even to the breath of life. Plants arrange themselves into families, choose their own habitation and select their own food. Through long study of the chemistry of soil and plants we are able to predict what we shall find stored away in the leaves, roots, barks and fruits of particular plants for the purpose of supplying our own bodies with the specific material and specific energy we require.”
There are many ways to make contact with nature. Anyone who has spent time communing with it will understand and feel its unseen gifts and potential as much as the more visible ones. The rocks, the earth, the many greens of foliage, and the rainbow colors of the blossoms and fruits speak for themselves. A flower, when you stare into it, can heal by its color and form alone, while its vibration and essence are something else.
Nature can respond like a true friend or lover, as events have shown time and again. The Findhorn Project in northern Scotland continues to provide a wonderful experience and revelation of the power of love and tuning into nature, showing that plants are intelligent, responsive, and emotional, lacking only, perhaps, the power of movement in an otherwise full spectrum of humanlike abilities.
Although some trees and plants are being killed off by humankind’s pollution, this faithful flora continues to step in to help with the mess we have gotten ourselves into! In evolutionary terms, humans developed only because of the presence of the plant kingdom.
In the past fifty years, Britain has suffered the destruction of 97 percent of its wildflower meadows, 75 percent of its open heath, 96 percent of its lowland peat bogs, and 190,000 miles of hedgerow — enough to circle the earth seven times.
Studies have shown that plants seem to provide the simplest and easiest way for combating the effects of airborne pollution; for instance, trees that have large areas of leaves with fairly rough or hairy surfaces are effective pollution traps. Hawthorn, with its open and branching shape, is a good “trapper,” using its canopy like a net.
Allowing and Sustaining Nature as Much as Possible
Permaculture, or forest gardening, is something practiced naturally by the native peoples of North America, the rain forests, and other places. These old cultures simply made or found tiny clearings and worked with the forest canopy, dew, sun, earth, light, and so on to grow fruits, vegetables, and other natural commodities, planting for their grandchildren and great-grand children as well as themselves.
Pesticides or Not
A problem arising from so-called monoculture (growing a single crop in the same soil year after year) concerns the use of chemical sprays. For years, because of the general gardening practices I employ, I have had no problem with slugs, whiteflies, or other pests. If I have the odd aphid, I spray successfully using strong herbal teas or a minute dilution of lavender and other essential oils in water. In so doing, I use something the insects find off-putting to deter them.
Another method, called companion planting, uses plant chemistry to keep pests at bay. For example, wormwood will produce a toxic chemistry that is effective at keeping invasive plants such as nettles away from desired plants; this practice of using the natural relationships between certain plants has often been applied to forest gardening.
On the pages that follow, I give brief profiles of sixteen plants widely available in Britain; most are also common in the United States, or are similar to species grown there. Be aware that some of the herbs described here do carry contraindications.